And now I’m starting to wonder if ANYTHING is going to be wrapped up. I mean I was already wondering this, but I honestly felt like this book didn’t really take us anywhere. It brought together a lot of people from the series, but for what reason!? But can I be mad at Snicket, it’s like he is warning us:
“Each mystery the Baudelaires discovered only revealed another mystery, and another, and another, and several more, and another, as if the three siblings were diving deeper and deeper into a pond, and all the while the city lay calm on the surface, unaware of all the unfortunate events in the orphans’ lives.” (Loc. 213)
But still, I’m not 100% sure I’m okay with a series that doesn’t wrap up everything. I can sort of get on board with a sad mopey series, but an incomplete/unfinished one, no thank you.
I didn’t go so far as to drop from a four star to a three star on Goodreads, but if it keeps going the way it looks like it is, I may have to! There’s one book left, less than 400 pages and there still feels like there are entirely way too many loose ends for my taste.
I appreciated this book, even if I couldn’t really enjoy it. So many characters from the series came together and made very brief appearances. I’m not sure if Snicket did this just to prove that he knew all of the characters he hadn’t wrapped up yet, or if there is an overarching reason for it. Again, hopefully I’ll find out in The End.
It’s really hard not to compare this series to Harry Potter, Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl, because those are the only other mega-series I’ve read and enjoyed. They each had their weaknesses, but it really feels like they were all stronger than this series. Again, it could be because this is for an even younger audience than those, but still people need closure! And I’m not convinced we’re going to get that.
As with this entire series though, the maturing of the characters and their ability to connect to the broader world and Snicket’s writing to a rapidly maturing from child to adolescent to teen, is fascinating. I can still find moments of beauty in the books like this one,
“The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding—which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together—blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author, from the swarm of termites that tried to destroy his notes, to the large boulder that someone rolled onto the illustrator as he sat by the edge of the pond waiting for the delivery of the manuscript.” (Loc. 2754)
But are they enough?
Recommendation: At this point I’m not sure I am going to like the ending of this series. I have a feeling there are going to be way too many unanswered questions. The book was good, but it still doesn’t really feel like we’re wrapping anything up in the series. It just feels like it keeps going and going and going.
Opening Line: “Certain people have said that the world is like a calm pond, and that anytime a person does even the smallest thing, it is as if a stone has dropped into the pond, spreading circles of ripples further and further out, until the entire world has been changed by one tiny action.”
Closing Line: “The Baudelaire orphans stood in the same boat as Count Olaf, the notorious villain, and looked out at the sea, where they hoped they could find their noble friends, and wondered what else they could do, and who they might become.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Additional Quotes from The Penultimate Peril
“Deciding on a safe answer to a question is like deciding on a safe ingredient in a sandwich, because if you make the wrong decision you may find that something horrible is coming out of your mouth.” (Loc. 1102)
“In general, of course, a stranger who tries to get you into an automobile is anything but noble, and in general a person who quotes great American novelists is anything but treacherous…” (Loc. 2118)
“It is very difficult to make one’s way in this world without being wicked at one time or another, when the world’s way is so wicked to begin with.” (Loc.2702)